Mockingbirds & Hawks
It took Sasuke a few moments to realize that he hadn't accidentally been transported to the past nor had he created a juvenile clone of himself subconsciously. The young boy that stood next to Karin stared directly into Sasuke's eyes, something that made the older Uchiha immensely uncomfortable. The boy seemed to be analyzing Sasuke just as much as Sasuke analyzing him. As Sasuke looked over the boy, he noticed differences between him and the child that calmed his heart rate down, but only slightly.
The boy's face was undeniably a near replica of Sasuke's and his hair was style similarly, but the hair color was off. Instead of being jet-black with some small traces of blue, his hair was black with bright red highlights. His eyes weren't black either, instead they were dark gray with traces of violet. His skin was paler than Sasuke's as well. The boy wore an open-collared black shirt and pin-striped black and white pants with black sandals. Initially, Sasuke couldn't tell where he thought he had seen the pinstripes before...then he remembered.
The boy glanced up towards Sasuke. "Mother...is this my father?" the boy said. Naruto looked over at Sasuke and from the questioning look he gave, Sasuke knew what he wanted to know. With a sharp glance, Sasuke shot his question down. Naruto nodded and Sasuke looked back at Karin and her son. Karin smiled and nodded.
"Yes, Sosei, it is," she replied. The boy stared back at Sasuke and scoffed.
"I thought he'd be taller...and less pretty," Sosei remarked. Sasuke narrowed his eyes and frowned at the boy who simply smirked smugly. The Uchiha's onyx gaze then went to Karin, who stood proudly behind her son. Sasuke prayed that Karin could read his mind and see the overwhelming flood of curses he wish to lay into her. Karin rubbed her son's head and looked down at him.
"Be respectful, Sosei," Karin said. Before Sasuke could think of something to say, Naruto cleared his throat and stepped. For the first time since the Forest of Death, Sasuke was thankful that Naruto had saved him. The Sixth Hokage folded his arms, observing both Karin and Sosei.
"Karin, while it is nice to see you after all this time..." Naruto said, attempting to sound calm and impartial. "What exactly are you doing here?" Karin flipped her hair and gripped Sosei's shoulders.
"If you don't mind, Lord Hokage, I'd rather discuss the matter in private," she said. Sasuke glanced towards the two young jonin that had been watching the gate and then to Rock Lee.
Begrudgingly, Sasuke had to agree that Karin did have a legitimate point. Sasuke didn't know the two jonin so automatically, he didn't trust them. On the other hand, Sasuke knew Rock Lee, dislike him and also didn't trust him. Whatever the matter Karin had to discuss, he'd much rather it be done privately. The three of them had already heard enough as it was.
Naruto nodded. "Alright, that's fine," he said.
Naruto approached Karin and Sosei, gesturing for Sasuke to come forward as he did. The older Uchiha walked forward, turning his head back towards Rock Lee and the two jonin. Briefly, Sasuke considered telling them not to say anything about what they had heard, but once again, his eyes said everything he wanted to say. Naruto placed his hands on Sasuke and Karin, who held Sosei close to her. The blonde Hokage nodded to Rock Lee.
"Keep watching the gate, Lee," Naruto said. Rock Lee saluted and bowed. The man's green jumpsuit and glossy bowl cut faded into a golden yellow flash that then materialized into the interior of Naruto's office. Papers flew into the air as the four people appeared. Sasuke watched, unfazed as several Narutos raced around the office, sifting through paperwork and signing documents. When one clone saw that the original had returned with guests, it's eyes widened. Sosei's eyes watched all of the clones with an intense level of intrigue.
"He has shadow clones doing his work for him. What a waste of chakra," Sosei said. Naruto watched as the clones disappeared in a puff of smoke that filled the room and slowly dissipated.
"Don't worry about me, kid. I've got plenty," Naruto said. Sasuke folded his arms and stood near the window next to Naruto's bookshelf. Naruto sat in his chair and Karin followed, sitting in the wooden chairs that sat facing Naruto's desk. Sosei sat beside her, his eyes never leaving Sasuke's. Though Sasuke was sure that his face showed no emotion, internally he wanted to grab the boy by his collar but he restrained himself.
"So," Karin said, crossing her legs. "Now that we're alone..."
"You can tell us what the hell you're doing here." Sasuke snapped. Naruto turned towards Sasuke and the Sixth Hokage's piercing blue eyes conveyed another of their silent messages. Be calm. Sasuke sighed and looked back out of the window. From his peripheral, Sasuke could see Karin adjust her glasses. Naruto rubbed his temples.
"Karin, please..." Naruto said.
"Well, the answer to why I'm here is actually quite simple." Sasuke cast a side glance to Karin as she continued to speak. "Sasuke and I share a child. In a few weeks, Sosei will be fourteen. I didn't want that day to come without him meeting his father." Karin said simply. Sasuke turned completely from the window and glowered at Karin.
"He's met me. You can leave now," Sasuke growled. Karin frowned and fixed her glasses while Sosei folded his arms.
"No, he hasn't," Karin said, before turning her eyes onto Naruto. "Lord Hokage...I'd like to be able to stay here for at least a year. If not me, then just Sosei. He needs to know about his father and his clan. It's his heritage." the red-haired woman looked over at Sasuke and the Uchiha seethed and stepped forward, Naruto's arm barely blocking him from coming from behind the desk. Karin stared back, her face a mix irritating confidence and equally annoying penitence. Sasuke could read her face like an Academy textbook. She knew she was wrong.
Through all the time Sasuke had known Karin, he had never feared that she would ever intentionally turn against him. Even now, Sasuke could feel that the red-haired woman was fully in love with him. The way her face was now, filled with confidence but also regret, reminded Sasuke of how she looked fourteen years ago before she left. Sasuke's anger raged within his chest but he played it cool. He refused to let them know anymore about his inner emotions.
"Before I make any kind of decision, I need some questions to be answered," Naruto said, still calm. Sasuke didn't envy his position as mediator between his party and Karin's. But, the blonde had always been great with utilizing his words and spirit to calm situations. Sasuke nodded.
"Yes," he said. Karin's confident facade faltered slightly.
"Okay," she said. Naruto's fingers made a bridge above his nose.
"You left Konoha fourteen years ago with Suigetsu and the two of you went to Kirigakure. Did you leave knowing that you were pregnant with Sasuke's child?" Naruto asked. Sasuke glanced out of the window, watching as two mockingbirds teamed against a hawk in the air, pecking at it and driving it away. Sasuke closed his eyes and sighed.
"No," Karin answered. "I had suspicions since..." she paused, glancing at Sosei. Sasuke's memory flickered as he recalled the the events fourteen years prior. It had been a brief and emotional moment but in that time, Sasuke couldn't pull away although he had tried his best. She had definitely intended to get pregnant by him before she left. Sasuke was certain. He looked down at Naruto, but the Hokage didn't make eye contact, almost like he refused to.
"Alright," Naruto said, nodding. Sasuke breathed sharply.
"Where's Suigetsu?" the dark eyed Uchiha demanded. Karin shifted slightly in her seat.
"He wanted to stay in Kiri. You know him and his Seven Swordsmen of the Mist dream. Still chasing it after all these years," Karin half-smiled, almost nervously. Naruto nodded absently.
"Did you let the Mizukage know you planned on leaving?" Naruto asked. Again, Karin was slightly frozen until she answered the question.
"No. I left on my own with my son. I wasn't officially a member of Kiri and neither was Sosei. He didn't even graduate from the Academy yet," Karin said. Sosei looked up questioningly at his mother. Karin avoided looking at the boy who turned and looked at Sasuke again. Sasuke stared back at the boy. Something about the boy's gaze intrigued Sasuke. His intense gaze was reminiscent of Sasuke's own. That was something the older shinobi couldn't deny. The boy had the Uchiha's intensity inside of him.
Naruto blinked and nodded. "Alright," he said again, coolly. With a quick hand seal, he created a shadow clone. Dipping his head toward it, he spoke to Karin and Sosei. "My clone will take you to a room across the hall. I need to speak with Sasuke alone," Naruto said.
Before Karin could object, Naruto's clone ushered them out of them and quickly across the hallway. The two old friends sat in silence for a brief stretch of time. Naruto's silence unnerved Sasuke. He had always been used to the blonde being crazily hyperactive and loud. Now, it seemed like the Hokage was meditating.
When he finally did speak, his words were almost whispers. "How could you?" he asked. Sasuke stared down at Naruto and twisted his face in confusion.
"What?" Sasuke inquired in return. In a flash, Naruto was on his feet and staring into Sasuke's face, smoldering with anger. Sasuke's eyes widened as he attempted to back away only to hit Naruto's bookshelf.
"How could you?" Naruto said, pressing forward. "After all the years you and Sakura spent building your relationship, recovering from past traumas and starting a family, how could you fuck that up?" Naruto asked, his voice almost reaching a volume high enough to leave the room. Sasuke stared back at Naruto, flustered.
He wasn't sure how he could've allowed this to happen.
"It was fourteen years ago," Sasuke said, reasoning with himself more than with his enraged friend. "Sakura and I hadn't yet committed to a relationship together. Suigetsu had decided to leave for his homeland and Karin wanted to go with him," Sasuke said. Naruto stood with his fists balled in front of the Uchiha.
"Yeah, I remember. I wanted to give them a chance to be integrated into the village but neither of them wanted that so I let them go," Naruto said. Sasuke looked away from Naruto, back outside and watched as the clouds rolled.
"Karin may have wanted to stay," he said. "The night she left, she came to me. All I remember was that something about her was so alluring to me. Something was different. Whatever it was, it caused me to black out and after that, I know I had a moment of clarity when her legs locked around my waist," Sasuke said. After his words, Naruto backed off slightly and looked with inquisitive blue eyes.
"You think she intended to have your child?" Naruto asked.
"Without a doubt," Sasuke said. "She's always had an obsession with me and somewhat of a hatred for Sakura." Sasuke said. Naruto sighed and planted his hand squarely against his face.
"God...how do you think Sakura is going to react to all of this when she finds out?" Naruto asked, sitting on the edge of his desk. Sasuke's heart felt like it froze in his chest and refused to Sakura found out, he didn't know what she'd do. God forbid, Sasuke's children be exposed to this news. Realization after realization continued to attack Sasuke's mind as he thought on the ramifications of Karin's appearance. Her very presence threatened the continuation of his family and what he strove for years to obtain.
Peace and happiness.
"She won't find out," Sasuke replied, looking directly into Naruto's eyes. "Karin has to leave. Now." Naruto sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Sasuke watched as the Hokage stood to his feet and paced around the room, rubbing his chin and muttering softly to himself. When he came to a stop, Sasuke looked up.
"I have two opinions on this," the Hokage said. "I honestly think that Karin genuinely wants Sosei to get to know about you and his heritage. Like it or not, you can't deny that kid. He looks exactly like a repainted version of you. I'd go as far to say that only Kichiro shares that much of a resemblance to you. Sosei has the blood of our country's greatest clan in his veins without a question," Naruto said.
As much as Sasuke wanted to argue Naruto's point, he couldn't. Everything he said was true. If Sosei's hair and eyes were pure black, he'd look identical to Sasuke. Also, if nothing else, Karin did really seem to want Sasuke to meet his long lost son, despite how much he didn't even want to acknowledge either of their existences.
"But," Naruto continued. "I think there's something she's hiding. She was rather dodgy whenever I asked about anything related to Kirigakure. Something was also off about her saying she wasn't an official member of the village. After fourteen years, she should've been accepted unless she continuously refused." Sasuke frowned.
"But why raise your child in a place that didn't accept you?" he asked. Naruto shook his head.
"Maybe she had always had hopes of getting back here to raise Sosei with you? I don't know. Them not being 'a part' of the village, her just leaving...it just doesn't make sense," Naruto said. A light went off inside of Sasuke's brain and he pointed at Naruto.
"The boy, Sosei...she said he hadn't graduated from the Academy yet...but he was wearing pinstriped pants and a black shirt. Add a grey flak jacket and a headband and he's dressed like a Kiri chunin," Sasuke said. Naruto nodded.
"Yeah, I noticed that too," the blonde man said, shaking his head. Sasuke frowned.
"What if Karin and Sosei are classified as missing-bin from Kiri?" he asked. Naruto shrugged.
"Their hunter-nun would've caught up to them by now. Besides, the age of deadly secrets amongst the great nations is over. The Shinobi Alliance..." Naruto said.
"Was a temporary alliance to fight against Madara, Obito and Kabuto during the war, " Sasuke interjected. "Is the 'Age of Deadly Secrets' truly over, Naruto? I surely hope you aren't farming out secrets to all the other Kage about how Konoha is doing," Sasuke said, folding his arms. Naruto raised his hand and sighed.
"I'd never," he said. The Sixth Hokage then leaned back in his chair and sighed loudly as he rubbed his temples. "This entire situation just keeps getting more complicated. I need time to think about all of this," he said. "Until then..."
"Until then?" Sasuke asked.
"Until then...I'll find Karin a hotel on the other side of Konoha away from you and your family. I'll install jonin guards to escort her so that she can't leave and harass you. She's traveled this far, it would be a mark against my reputation to turn her away immediately. Tomorrow, I'll call you both in and we'll move on from there," Naruto said. Sasuke frowned but he knew that there was no way he could persuade Naruto eject Karin from the village immediately. He had no choice but to wait for Naruto's decision.
"Fine, that'll have to suffice," Sasuke said. Naruto nodded and smirked.
"Speaking of decisions...given the current situation, I've decided to postpone my jonin squad leader pick for now. At least until we've cleared all of this up," Naruto said. Sasuke didn't know if he should have been thanking Naruto or punching him repeatedly.
"I still think that's a horrible decision," Sasuke said.
"You would know more about horrible excisions than me," Naruto laughed. Sasuke growled softly.
"Shut up," he said. Sasuke gazed out of the window and saw a large crowd gathering below. They must've been the parents for the Academy graduation exam results. In the crowd, Sasuke's avian eyes caught sight of the trademark pink hair of both his wife and his daughter Hikari. Beside them, Sasuke's younger son, Kichiro was excitedly leaping up and down. Sasuke smiled as he watched his family, his real family. Then he paused. Sakura was here and far too close to Karin and Sosei.
As if he was reading Sasuke's mind, Naruto tapped his friend on the shoulder. Sasuke turned to see the Hokage's grin. "Don't worry. My clone will watch them until everyone's cleared away from the building. After that, I'll make sure that they get there without anyone seeing them," Naruto said. Sasuke nodded.
Although Naruto generally wasn't a master of stealth like he was, he knew that his friend wouldn't fail him. Smiling, Naruto put his hand on Sasuke's shoulder. "Are you ready to go down?" the blonde Hokage asked. Sasuke dipped his head.
"Absolutely," he said. Within moments, Naruto and Sasuke appeared below under the shade of the trees in front of the Academy. Sakura, Hikari, Kichiro and Hinata stood distinctly amongst the excited crowd of people. Sasuke also noticed several of the Konoha 11 present in the masses. Relieved to see his cherry blossom, Sasuke couldn't hold himself back from walking over to her. Naruto followed him and changed his course to get to Hinata.
Sasuke hugged Sakura from behind and kissed her cheek. "Cherry Blossom," he growled in her ear. Sakura jumped and turned her head enough to see him and she smiled at him.
"Not in public. You know what that does to me," she whispered before kissing him. After their lips parted, Kichiro and Hikari looked up and saw Sasuke. The children's faces lit up and Hikari grabbed his leg.
"Papa!" she cried with glee. Sasuke smiled as he lifted his daughter into the air and kissed her cheek. His little light clung to his flak jacket and kissed him back. Sasuke's youngest son, Kichiro smiled and hugged his father.
"They just said that the graduation exam was over! Takuma's waiting to see if he gets to become a Genin!" Kichiro said.
"He should. He's got his father's skill," Naruto grinned as he approached with Hinata at his side. The Hokage's bride was as elegant and beautiful as she ever had been, her long violet hair draped down her back and her dress modestly fitting her shape. Hinata dipped her head as Sasuke made eye contact with her.
"Hello, everyone," she said softly. Sasuke smiled politely and Sakura walked towards the former Hyùga heiress and hugged her. The two women then walked away from Naruto and Sasuke. The Uchiha's eyes watched them as they talked amongst themselves. If he had been a nosy man, his Sharingan could easily read their lips and see what they were saying. Instead, Sasuke kept his eyes on the Academy entrance.
"Nervous?" Naruto asked his friend. Sasuke blinked.
"Not at all," Sasuke replied. Naruto grinned.
"The amount of sheer arrogance standing next to me is astounding," he chuckled.
"When'd you start using words like 'astounding'? Has Shikamaru been helping you expand your vocabulary?" Sasuke asked. Naruto pouted and folded his arms.
"No," he said, looking away. "Well some things, but not 'astounding'."Sasuke smirked and counted another win on his belt.
"Right," he said.
The two fathers watched the entrance of the Academy in anticipation. Finally, the front door opened and Udon, the old teammate of Konohamaru and the chunin proctor in charge of the graduating class, walked out.
With a wide smile, he proclaimed, "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! May I introduce to you, this year's graduating Genin!" As the children began to leave the building, the parents began to cheer loudly, including Naruto. Sasuke sat in silence and waited as Udon raised the paper he had to his face. "First, I'll name the top five highest scoring Genin," he said. "At number five, Hajime Hyūga!"
Sasuke watched as the long brown-haired Hyūga boy stepped forward, his pale eyes looking out over the crowd. He had a conceited grin on his face that reminded Sasuke of a very young Neji. Udon continued reading down the list.
"At number four, Kohei Mizutani," another family Sasuke had never heard of. He almost felt embarrassed to not know about the genin that were being put in the same class as his son. Kohei stepped forward, his messy black hair covering his right eye. He peered around, entirely uninterested in the festivities. In fact, the kid looked tired. Sasuke understood his plight.
"Mimi Inuzuka is number three," Udon said. Sasuke heard an ecstatic "ALRIGHT! WAY TO GO!" shoot from the crowd followed by a thunderous bark that could only belong to Kiba and his giant white dog, Akamaru. Kiba's daughter, Mimi wasn't the feral child he expected at all. In fact, she was quite pretty. Her puppy on the other hand was a mottled mutt. Speckled with gold, white, and black, the dog should've been a handsome companion. Instead, it's fur was unkempt and dirty. Nevertheless, Kiba's daughter pet it with pride.
Love was blind, it seemed.
"And finally," Udon said with a wide grin. "The two students tied with the highest scores and none other than the children of our Hokage and Sasuke Uchiha, Takuma Uchiha and Honami Uzumaki!" As Takuma and Honami stepped forward, Sasuke felt his face beam with pride. On his forehead, Takuma wore his Leaf headband, the first true mark of his status as a Konoha shinobi. Honami wore her headband around her left arm which she used to rub Takuma's shoulder, grinning like her father as she did.
Takuma blushed and as he did, Sasuke could feel Naruto's eyes baring into him as he smiled. Sasuke ignored it. All he wanted to focus on was how far Takuma had come thus far and how much further he still had to go. As his now second eldest son came towards them, his face lit up with the excitement of being made a genin, Sasuke's mind could only think of the trouble Karin and Sosei's presence caused.
The Uchiha and Uzumaki families went to the Ichiraku Ramen Restaurant to celebrate their children's success. Sasuke wasn't much of a ramen connoisseur and let Naruto suggest for once what he should order. Like his godfather, Kichiro had an intense love for ramen. Everyday, Sasuke sometimes wondered if somehow, he had had the wrong child. Takuma and Honami sat side by side, talking about how excited they were to be genin. Sakura rubbed Sasuke's arm and laid her head on his shoulder.
"They're adorable." she whispered. Sasuke nodded in agreement. Normally, Takuma was quiet, reserved and analytical. Around Honami, Sasuke could finally see his son's personality brighten. It was an amazing sight for him to see. His son was growing up before his eyes.
Had he truly missed that with Sosei?
This question plagued Sasuke's mind all through the dinner and all the way home. After tucking his children into bed, Sasuke laid in his own, tossing and turning like a madman as he attempted to find some sort of peace in his head. Eventually, Sakura rolled over, resting her head on his chest as she looked up at him.
"Sasuke, what's wrong?" she yawned, rubbing her hand on the Uchiha's chest. Once again, Sasuke was tasked with being selectively honest with a family member.
"Naruto wants me to be the squad leader for Takuma's team," Sasuke said. Sakura smiled and tilted her head to the side when Sasuke didn't smile back.
"Wait, why is that a problem?" she asked. "He's your son. There's no one better to train him," Sakura said. Sasuke shook his head.
"Genin and jonin squads aren't just about training to fight. They're about teaching morals and ethics. All of which, I seem to lack," Sasuke said. Sakura sighed.
"Still worried about the past?" she asked. Sasuke nodded.
"I always am. It seems like everything from the past resurfaces," he said. Sakura traced her fingers down Sasuke's stomach and past his belly button, reaching into his pants. Sasuke's eye widened as Sakura grabbed him.
"I'm going to tell you two things that will pull you out of your sour mood," Sakura said, slowly twisting her hand up and down. Sasuke's lower extremities stood erect in her grip and Sasuke could the stress leaving him already.
"What two things?" he asked. Sakura slowly pulled Sasuke's pants down, never losing eye contact with her husband.
"One, Hinata's pregnant but she hasn't told Naruto yet. I don't want you to either," Sakura said. Sasuke nodded and smirked.
"What's the next bit of news?" he asked. Sakura only smiled back as her mouth lowered onto him. The feeling sent Sasuke's mind on an escapade through the stars. As Sakura rose up to go down on him again, she paused. Sasuke heard it too. Hikari was crying.
"Sorry," Sakura said quietly as she leapt up and robed herself. Sasuke watched her go and then stared into the ceiling. He needed to do something about the Karin situation. If Naruto intended to send her away in the morning, he did at least want to speak to her about Sosei before they left. The boy they shared was a petulant, arrogant and rude child, but he was still Sasuke's son, albeit, illegitimate. He had to talk to them. An hour past midnight seemed like a perfect time to do so.
When Sakura returned to the room, she held Hikari in her arms and laid back in bed, rocking back and forth. Sasuke rose out of bed and put on a shirt and sandals.
"What's wrong with the princess?" Sasuke asked.
"Just had a nightmare. You ok?" Sakura asked as Sasuke turned around.
"Yeah, just going for a quick walk. Need to get some air," he said, bending down to kiss her. "Thanks for the tease." Sakura smiled.
"I'll finish later," she cooed. Sasuke smiled back at her.
"I'll hold you to it," Sasuke said as he left the house.
Sasuke's feet led him throughout Konoha, passing through the outskirts of the village to the interior and finally to the other side of Konoha where Naruto had said he'd taken Karin and Sosei to. The hotel was a tourist resort that was reserved mostly for the richest visitors to Konoha. Sasuke realized quickly why Naruto had only wanted for her to be in here for a single night. This entire situation was expensive.
Sasuke entered the hotel and looked around. The lobby was empty and nobody stood behind the desk, leaving Sasuke in a quagmire that he solved quickly. Sasuke tracked down Karin's hotel room using logic. Naruto wouldn't want her presence to be easily discovered and using his name as Hokage, he'd have been able to acquire a high rise room. The most expensive room would be at the top of the hotel. Sasuke used the elevator and ascended up towards the top floor of the hotel, waiting patiently for the ding when the elevator stopped. When it did and the elevator doors opened, Sasuke's eyes widened with shock.
Laying in front of the hotel room door, three cloaked men laid in a puddle of blood. As Sasuke walked closer, he realized that the three men were ANBU Black Ops. Their porcelain masks were cracked and bloodied along with their cloaks. Sasuke's stomach sunk and he felt his heart start to race. Adrenaline pumped into his blood and almost out of instinct, Sasuke activated his Sharingan. Sasuke walked past the bodies, stepping over the blood pools. Inside of the hotel room, Sasuke heard thumping and slamming. Quickly, Sasuke stepped forward and opened the door.
Sosei stood in the middle of the room. In front of him, Sasuke recognized one of the two young jonin that were standing guard at the Konoha gate. When his eyes went to the floor, he saw the second. The jonin in front of Sosei slumped to the floor. When Sosei turned around to see who had entered the room, Sasuke saw the kunai knife in his hand, dripping with the blood of Konoha's finest and the all too familiar scarlet glow of the Sharingan shining in Sosei's eyes...